17 “Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’
18 “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws. They will be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
In the context of today’s verse we are looking at verse nineteen where God states He will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. At the same time He is giving His people an undivided heart with a new spirit He also will be gathering them from the nations and bring them back from the countries where they have been scattered, and He will give them back the land of Israel again.’ “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols.
While they are in exile they received, from the prophet Ezekiel, the promise of a return to Israel once again – all of Israel, not a divided Israel. Upon their return they will have an undivided heart, a heart focused on God without doubts, without any desire for false gods and idols. For those whose hearts are too hard to be made flesh who remain (verse twenty-one) devoted to their vile images and detestable idols He will bring down on their own heads what they have done.
Just as we have the promise of Jesus’ return, the exiled Jews had the promise of the return to Israel. Just as the knowledge of Jesus’ return gives us great hope and joy, so did the vision Ezekiel was given gave great solace to those in exile. In the last verses of this chapter we read
24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God.
Then the vision I had seen went up from me, 25 and I told the exiles everything the Lord had shown me.
Just before that, in the vision Ezekiel had he saw
23 The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it.
The location of the mountain? This mountain would become known as the Mount of Olives. Due to its height, it provides a great view of the city of Jerusalem, an appropriate place for the Divine glory of God. It is there Zechariah (14:4) had a vision of the Lord’s final judgment. Also, it was here Jesus foretold the future destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) and later made his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:11-12).
Interesting how one location can have such importance in history and in our future as well. How is your heart today? Is it stone or flesh from a spiritual perspective?